Everything Elon Musk touches turns to gold. And now his tunnel project seems like it is really getting up and running – albeit with some controversy.
At a talk in Los Angeles last night, Musk laid out his vision for The Boring Company. Specifically, he discussed plans to build a network of tunnels under LA, which he dubbed the “Loop”. It’s intended to try and relieve the traffic problems that plague the city.
The idea is that pods that can carry 16 people will shoot at speeds of up to 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) underground from one station to another. That’s considerably faster than, say, the London Underground, where tubes can only reach speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour (60 miles per hour) outside the city center. And it’ll cost just $1 to ride.
Here's a replay of the event last night.
“The only time you actually stop would be when you exit,” Musk said, noting how the system would be designed to be as economical as possible to keep the costs down. Oh, he also really likes bricks.
This isn’t quite the true Hyperloop system that Musk has been touting for years, which would transport people at speeds of up to 1,220 kilometers per hour (760 miles per hour) in vacuum-sucked tubes between cities. But it is a step towards solving LA’s traffic problem, and it looks like the city is on board, with the city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority tweeting its support.
The Boring Company will build a test tunnel 3.4 kilometers (2.1 miles) long next to the 405 freeway, which notoriously suffers from terrible rush-hour traffic. And they’ll get members of the public to test out the tunnel, so they can get some feedback. There's already a video of another test track they built.
“It’ll be like a weird little Disney ride in the middle of LA,” Musk said. “Bring your flamethrower.”
Not everyone is happy though. Because the city has given Musk a pretty major exemption from environmental laws, in an effort to speed up the construction. That has not gone down well, and two neighborhood groups are currently sueing over the exemption.
"It's really sketchy the way this whole process happened," said Wendy-Sue Rosen, president of one of the groups, reported CNN. "Musk has not done it the right way, and he's standing there saying, 'Don't worry.' That doesn't assure me."
Musk has countered, though, that there will be a full environmental review at a later date. He said the company would fill out “something like 600 pages of permits” to comply with environmental laws.
He ultimately wants his company to develop its own boring machine than can dig up to 15 times faster than existing machines – and outrun the company’s mascot, Gary the snail. Let's see how he does.